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rug no longer available Baluch bag (balisht) face with silk diamond, late 19th c.

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Antique Baluch bag (balisht) face with silk diamond, late 19th c.—click to see enlarged view

Design, colour and attribution

The dark saturated palette and weave seem to put this old Baluch (Belouch) bag face or pushti into the Khorassan region (north-east Persia)—but given the many conflicting views on Baluch and 'Baluch-type' attribution, I am far from sure regarding the attribution. What seems pretty clear is that this is a weaving of significant age and of tribal origin, given the austere design, variable width, deeply saturated and very dark palette of natural dyes (aubergine, dark teal green, dark indigo, dark madder red, dark brown, with white only used in the border, and the tiny silk diamond motive in brighter colours (some probably early synthetic dyes).

An arrangement of three columns of squashed diamonds fills the field. Towards the border, the space is filled by stripes alternating red, green, aubergine and blue which follow the contour of the diamonds. The diamond motive contains a cross (teal green in the central column, blue in the side columns) from which arrows point outwards in all four directions. Each cross contains a tiny checkered diamond. Two thirds down, one of the small diamond centres is rendered in silk pile, using a cold and a warm light green, orange, purple, and pink. This brighter detail seems to emphasize the expanse of austere dark colour around it.

The inner border has a geometric reciprocal meander which repeats the checkered diamond motive. It is framed by two narrow barberpole borders in green and red. The outer narrow border has diamonds on white ground rectangles alternating with those on red and aubergine ground.


The bag face measures 32 in. x 17–19 in. (82 x 44–48 cm). A very fine and dense weave with a short pile and a leathery handle, so dense that it resists when you try pushing a needle through it. 12.v,8.h = 96 kpsi, with knots asymmetric open to the left. The warps are z-spun s-plied off-white wool, some threads twined with brown wool; two weft shoots of thin dark brown wool. Very nice soft and shiny wool, no trace of tip fading or light fading, colours on front and back are identical, no holes, tears, stains,of course no bleeding. Flat fine four cord selvages, in all less than half an inch wide, the inner and outer cords wrapped in brown wool, the middle ones in aubergine wool. I haven't seen this before.


The ends are shortened, slightly more so at the top, which means not the full border remains here (see images). Both ends have been well secured. The pile is short (has never been long) and in fairly good condition for the age. In the central field there is uneven wear, with pile down to knotheads in places and a bit of foundation shining through (see images), but it is nowhere bare.

More images

Baluch balisht - central field

Baluch balisht -  central pile

Baluch balisht -  lower half

Baluch balisht - lower right

Baluch balisht - silk diamond

Baluch balisht - top half

Baluch balisht - top left

Baluch balisht -  pile detail

Baluch balisht - back side

Last update: 23 April 2007 | Impressum—Imprint